As more than a billion people globally live with disabilities, Middletons looks at how each European nation’s disability benefits compare and support the most vulnerable.
More than a billion people are living with problems related to a disability, which is around 15% of the world’s population. The World Bank estimates that 20% of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people have a disability, and statistics reveal that these numbers are steadily increasing.
To understand how the disabled population is being supported across Europe, Middletons has analysed data from the top 10 European countries with the highest disabled populations. They uncovered how well the UK’s benefits stack up in comparison.
Disability benefits in the UK
The UK has the largest population of people with a disability in Europe (21.7%) but has one of the lowest monthly disability allowances. While more than 14.6 million people in the UK live with a disability of some sort, the monthly benefits allowance is only £679.90 on average.
However, while every European nation offers some financial assistance, either in the form of a benefit, or pension schemes, the UK has some of the best additional benefits for the disabled population.
As the UK is also one of the only countries with a National Health Service, any treatment relating to disabilities is often free and ultimately far cheaper than the rest of Europe.
As well as the monthly disability allowance, disabled people in the UK may be eligible for the following financial support.
- Up to 100% council tax discount.
- Winter fuel payments up to £300.
- £140 warm home discount scheme – discount on gas or electricity bills.
- WaterSure scheme to cap your water bills.
- Disabled facilities grant to modify homes between £25,000 – £36,000.
- Free bus pass.
- Blue Badge scheme, allowing for free parking.
- Motability scheme, where you trade some or all of enhanced mobility components towards the cost of a vehicle.
- Up to a third off rail tickets with a disabled person’s rail card.
- Vehicle tax exemption.
Disability benefits across the rest of Europe
Middletons has collated the most notable benefits that disabled people may be entitled to across the top ten European countries with the highest populations with disabilities.
The research reveals that the Nordic countries and Switzerland offer the most generous compensation to people living with disabilities, while Poland offers the fewest benefits.
As the European nation with the second-largest disabled population (20.9%), Switzerland offers the largest financial support to their most vulnerable, with disabled citizens (1.8 million people) entitled to an average monthly disability allowance of £7,149.55.
Following Switzerland is Norway. Despite having one of the lowest disabled populations in Europe, with just over 1 in 10 people living with a disability(10.7%), Norway provides a healthy monthly allowance of £2,561.19 to its 373,660 disabled people.
Not only that, but Norway offers disability benefits as a universal right, in contrast to many other countries that only offer benefits to those in the labour market.
In third place is Denmark. Disabled Danes comprise 16% of the population and are entitled to £2,198.53 in monthly disability allowance. Not only is this the third-highest financial package, but disability pensions are means-tested in Denmark, and housing allowances may be added to pensions.
At the bottom of the board is Poland, where the 2.49 million disabled people are entitled to 3265% less than those in Switzerland, a pitiful monthly allowance of £212.43.
The Polish permanent disability pension is only granted to those who have been declared to have permanent work incapacity; however, a temporary disability pension can be claimed by people who have work incapacity for a temporary period.
Comparison across different countries
Ricky Towler, founder of Middletons Mobility says: ‘These countries are home to the biggest disabled populations in Europe, and it’s great to see a variety of financial and material support on offer for those living with a disability. Though great support is offered, many countries still have a long way to go to help their most vulnerable people.’
‘Interestingly, Spain and Italy have some of the highest disability rates in Europe yet have the least benefits for their people. Meanwhile, the disabled population in Germany can claim children’s disability benefits up until the age of 27, 11 years longer than children in the UK.’
‘This is valuable to German families with children who may not follow a typical timeline of non-disabled children who are more likely to move out and gain independence or employment at age 18.’
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